This past October, I received an amazing birthday gift from my husband. Not only did he give me the gift I had been dreaming of, he delivered it in a great way. I came home from a rough day at work and he dragged me to the garage, eager to show me how well he had cleaned it. When I opened the door, my eyes fell upon my birthday gift. A kayak! I had been joking with my family for months about how that was all I wanted, not expecting that anyone would take me seriously. I even had my little nephew repeating it for me (he surprised me with a kayak Christmas tree ornament!). Phil was proud of himself for pulling off the surprise and I was thrilled.
So, why a kayak? I had some early life experiences with white water rafting, thanks to an adventurous youth group leader (Honestly, who has the courage to take 40 teenagers to West Virginia?). I’m so grateful for those trips. I loved the water, loved paddling, getting out of the boat to swim in the lull between the rapids. Camping out after a 6 hour rafting trip, falling asleep out of sheer exhaustion. But, Northeast Ohio is not exactly known for its white water and regular travel to the New River was kind of out of the question once I had children. And then, during a family camping trip, I discovered the joy of kayaking. Well, sort of.
Phil and I agreed to share a kayak that first trip. Mis. Take. If you have any marital strife, it will rear its ugly head while you are trapped in a small boat with your spouse. Our paddling was not in sync. I wanted to lead, but agreed to sit in the back of the boat. Our paddles would clack and clang as we attempted to find a pattern that worked for us. I don’t think it ever happened. Maybe other couples find bliss in being in close proximity on a 12 foot boat, but I found myself dreaming of whacking Phil in the head and sending him over board. I love him, just not enough to ever get in a tandem boat with him again. (Again, just for reassurance, I love you Phil.)
Fast forward a few years and I was given the chance to kayak on another family vacation. I took the single boat this time and fell head over heals in love. Solo kayaking is all about you, the boat, the paddle and navigation of whatever water you find yourself in. Having never taken lessons or read a book about what to do, I had to figure it out on my own. Turning around, paddling around obstacles, it was all up to me to figure out. My independence-loving soul seemed to shout “Yes! This is what we need!”
I kayaked on that family trip and later at a livery that opened near my home on the rivers and channels that head out to Lake Erie. In enjoy seeing the wildlife of the Lake Erie area up close during these trips. I’ve had Great Blue Herons soar past me and dive in to the water to grab their lunch. I’ve had a beaver thwack his tail near my boat after I got too close to his dam. This past weekend, I took my kayak to the Lake for my first open water experience. It was a blast, even with jet-skis and boats occasionally roaring by. We’ve attempted family trips again, but the kids are too young to go on their own and they don’t like to be in tandem boats with us. I understand their pain.
I decided my kayak needed a name in honor of its inaugural season (and her first race, stay tuned for more info about that!). Something in me said it was bad luck for the boat to NOT have a name. I asked for help from friends on Twitter and Facebook and got some great suggestions. Here are a few of my favorites:
“IEPeed”-a tribute to my special education day job
“4Phrey”-a nod to our family of four/last name
“Maya”-so I could say I was in “Maya Kayak”
“Go Tri Jess”-nice use of the blog name!
After deliberating for a few days, it came to me while I was in the shower (site of many “Ah-ha” moments). I laughed out loud when I thought of it, a sure sign that I was making the right choice.
Happy Summer to you! What are you doing for fun this summer? Any non-running activities that keep you busy?